An African-American girl has been told she has to girl that she either does something with her hair or cut her "distracting" natural hair style or be expelled from school.
Vanessa VanDyke, 12, says she was told by Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida, are giving her one week to cut her overgrown hair, which she wears natural, with no styling or find a new school, Local 6 reports.
If she refuses to cut and shape her hair, the private school, which has rules regarding how students wear their hair, said she is not allowed to attend classes, she told the station.
However, Vanessa has no plans to straighten or cut her natural hairstyle, which the school has called “a distraction”.
"It says that I’m unique,” she said of her distinctive hairstyle, which has made her the target of bullies.
"First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don't fit in."
Her school's strict dress code includes rules about how students can wear their hair, which "must be a natural colour and must not be a distraction", according to the student handbook.
Vanessa says she has been wearing her hair in her trademark natural style all year, but says it only became an issue after her family complained that she was being teased over her hair.
"I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that I’ve known for a while, but I'd rather have that than the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair," Vanessa told Local 6.
Her mother, Sabrina Kent, vowed to fight for her daughter. Kent told the station that she is standing beside her daughter. One of the rules at the school is that hair should not be a distraction to other students. The mother said "a distraction to one person is not a distraction to another."
"If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is."